23 July 2011

Hello Mr Albert!

It’s been since Mother’s day since I’ve written on here, so I better get to work! The delay is for several reasons. One, There’s been quite a bit of work for me at my new position and when I get home I just don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer any more. Two, my Gramps passed away in June and that has been a bit challenging for me to deal with. Three, after work and family life there really hasn’t been that much to write about! So I figured, why publish a blog about nothing.
I have finally found some good stuff to write about so here it is. I reported to the US Embassy in Cairo on 15May and will most likely remain here until about 10DEC, when I will transition back to San Diego for some post-deployment processing. After that I will make my way to P’cola and hopefully Katie and AC will be all ready to enjoy some Christmas holiday festivities – even though we will essentially be homeless until we get back to California! That’s a whole story in itself, but I can’t wait for that to play out!
I spent the better part of May and June planning and polishing up this bilateral exercise in the Red Sea between the US Navy and Egyptian Navy. I've made a few trips to Alexandria, but mostly my job is at the Embassy. I like it here. The hotel I'm living in is very comfortable. Hello Mr Albert is the greeting I get from all the hotel employees. I stop and talk with them everday and I think that makes it easy for some of the Egyptians to form a good impression of Americans.  I like walking around the local shops and grocery stores, trying to decipher prices, names of foods and I like talking to the locals. A couple weeks ago, I realized I hadn't learned any Arabic and remembered how frustrated I would get at people in San Diego when people only spoke Spanish, so I decided to make an effort to learn the basics. I think it's appreciated because when I say words people are surprised and then they smileand respond back - but then I have to explain that I only know a little. My Arabic skills leave A LOT to be desired but I can eek out: Good Morning (and the response to good morning), Hello, How much is this, My name is, what's your name, have a nice day (or night) good evening and a couple odds and ends that keeps me from getting scowled at like an outsider who's not even trying to speak the local language. Most of the groceries have pictures on them, so aside from the deli meats and cheeses, I have a pretty good idea what I am buying. Cheese is a weekly surprise. I never know what flavor, texture or dollar amount I'll be getting when I point to one and ask for half a kilo. But after 8 weeks, the deli manager knows that I like soft swiss-type cheese vs hard parmesean-type.  People are nice here and once they see that all I'm here to do is buy from their shop or eat from their restaurant they are very welcoming. When the say "Where you from?" and I say America, most of the time I get a big smile and a "Welcome! Egypt and America are friends". Sometimes it's not like that, but that's okay too. Everyone doesn't like us around. I understand that too.  I've found that people are people and most of us are just trying to make a good life for ourselves and our families. Here's what it looks like from my hotel room. This is the Nile River and some pretty cool pics that I took.
Downtown Cairo traffic

More city shots

The sign says 6.55 Egyptian Pounds = $1.25

Khan El Khalili Market
Here's me on the golf course. You'd never know I was in the middle of the desert!!

 These pics are from a famous market called Khan El Khalili. They have it all there! Papyrus (pronounced: pa-pie-rus, don't laugh someone I know needed some assistance with that :), silver jewelry, bronze and copper everything, touristy trinkets, blown glass and clothes. I had to get out of there before I spent it all!

Last week I flew from Cairo to a place called Hurghada and then drove to Safaga, Egypt to put my plans into effect. It was a six day, 1000-member exercise that more than 10 naval assets participated in. There were lots of logistics to iron out, translate, and then put to work. With the help of many, we made it a successful exercise and I think both navies are better for it. I only snapped a few photos of the exercise, mostly because I was on the Eg Navy base and it’s prohibited. Also because when I wasn’t working I spent my time at the hotel. That’s where most of my pics are from. Not too exciting and it paints a picture like I was on vacation – please believe me, I’m not. If I was, I’d have my two ladies out here basking in the sun with me!
Egyptian warrior
The falcon headed guy is Huron, son of Iris and Osiris. I can't remember
 the significance but one eye is the sun and the other is the moon.
This is just a quick picture of the grounds of the resort
I was staying at in Safaga, EG.
Another resort grounds photo. It's a tough life, but someone
has got to live it!

Here is me getting a quick rubdown before the exercise started. I had no idea they were going to make me into art, but hey, if they recognize my skills and good looks well, more power to them.

Inside the Lobby of Intercontinental Abu Soma

There was SO much grass to mow. These guys were
mowing all day all week long! It's also necessary to mention
the temps were in the low 100s.

 'Safety First' That's what I always say!


Katie and Beau said...

You've only been there since May 15? Why does it feel like So. Much. Longer??? I guess because you were in Bahrain first...

That resort looks so nice! I am so proud of you for all of your hard work and participation to make the meeting successful. I know your work did not go unnoticed.

Katie and Beau said...

P.S. We miss you, Mr. Albert.

Christy said...

I'm very impressed by the work you are doing there, Beau! Based on your brief description of what you are doing, I think you are perfect for the job over there.

Hopefully the next few months will pass by very, very quickly!

Am I the only one who thinks that the groundsmen look kind of like one of the super mario brothers?

The Hatcher's said...

It looks really nice over there. They really hooked you up at a beautiful resort. Your experiencing a lot of cool things, and sounds like you are doing a great job at work. It won't be long before you can see AC and Katie!